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Archive for June, 1998

Details Magazine

Jun-??-1998
Details Magazine

I’m warned about Chris Carter by Duchovny, who knows a lot about misleading exteriors. Inside Carter’s office on the Fox lot, not far away from the [movie] set, the creator of The X-Files seems calmly immune to the rigors of filmmaking. He is a handsome man, graying and shaggy-haired, sitting in an elegantly appointed, shuttered office, bowls of candy and fruit on various dark wood desks, a turquoise surfboard in a corner, an episode mapped out in index cards on a bulletin board. It could be the office of any other successful executive, except for a copy of The Big Book of Death, a volume of fun facts about death, murder, and suicide.

Everything about the forty-one-year-old Carter’s manner and appearance is smooth and fluid, and he takes a patient, fatherly view of the on-set tensions. He cautions me, for instance, not to believe the stars’ threats to leave the show. “We’re all tired,” he says. “And the tiredness sometimes leaks into our feelings about the future.”

Carter’s in charge of the full X-Files franchise, series and film, as well as Millennium, yet he seems like the only reasonable man on the lot. “But don’t be fooled,” Duchovny advises me. “He’s an anxious dude, and he’s intensely driven. He’s definitely the hardest-working man in show business I’ve ever met. That comes from intensely personal reasons that aren’t important, aren’t savory, for him to publicize.”

During the show’s growth and comprehensive scrutiny by fans, the three principals — Carter, Duchovny, and Anderson — have remained as elusive and mysterious as the figures they’ve created, their personal secrets guarded more closely than nay red-paper script. Until now, Carter has given only a sketch of himself: He grew up in a suburb of L.A., majored in journalism at Cal State Long beach, toiled at Surfing magazine, then wrote TV and film scripts with enough success to merit a deal at the needy new Fox network. Carter has always attributed the paranoia evident in The X-Files to historical events — specifically the Watergate scandal, which broke when he was in high school and cautioned him not to trust the government. “Trusting people, generally, is bad,” he says with a slight smile.

But his distrust, I learn, isn’t solely the product of Richard Nixon’s scheming. Carter reveals that he is the child of alcoholic parents. “My dad was very, very strict, a construction worker, and an extremely hard worker,” he explains. “He tore up streets, and the job always came first. If it was raining, he’d get up in the middle of the night and go make sure the flooding wasn’t filling up ditches.

“My parents were a united front, and never broke rank with one another. If my father said one thing, my mother had to agree with him. I couldn’t trust my mother — if I told her something about a girlfriend, she would blab it. When you can’t trust the person you by nature want to trust the most, it’s a very dangerous situation. So it became a challenge for my brother and me to figure out how to comport ourselves. Later, it got much worse; my parents became alcoholics. Our household sort of disintegrated, and it became a crazy version of that unified front, so my brother and I lived through the less rational years, and found a way to survive in that environment.”

Given Carter’s revelation, it’s understandable that Mulder’s monomania is motivated by a hunger to discover who killed his father and whether or not his sister was abducted by aliens — to reclaim the family that was taken from him. Duchovny also grew up in a broken family; his parents split when he was eleven. On The X-Files. every human connection is tenuous and shifting, with an uneasy alliance of mistrust. “David and I share a fear of betrayal,” Carter observes. “It comes from the same roots. His was a father who’d left the family, mine was two parents whose availability was affected by their alcoholism.”

Toronto Sun: Moment Of Truth

Jun-??-1998
Toronto Sun
Moment Of Truth
Bob Thompson

Expectations are running high as the popular X-Files crosses over from TV to the big screen

HOLLYWOOD — It’s undeniable. The X-Factor truth will be out there in a few weeks. Believe no one until then.

Days from now we will discover whether TV’s X-Files will become a movie hit.

Opening Friday, Chris Carter’s film creation is a $60-million exercise in Star Trek-like cross-pollination, although unlike Star Trek and The Next Generation, the series is still airing.

So like what’s going on?

This is clear. The X-Files: Fight The Future tries to exploit what makes the series popular.

That would be the unspoken bond between David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully, the FBI agents featured weekly on their missions implausible.

Fine. So what’s going on? Like do they?

Do they track down otherwordly warriors? Yes, they do.

Also on hand during their big screen journey are these familiar small screen faces: William B. Davis’ The Cigarette-Smoking Man, John Neville’s The Well-Manicured Man and the conspiracy trio, The Lone Gunmen (Dean Haglund, Tom Braidwood and Bruce Harwood).

New to the scene are Martin Landau’s doctor in a dilemma, Armin Mueller-Stahl’s earthly conspirator and Blythe Danner’s assistant FBI director.

So what’s the movie story? Mulder and Scully uncover what they sort of expose but never prove — aliens are everywhere.

Indeed, they do what they have been doing since Chris Carter created the TV program five years ago.

Carter, who likes to boast that “I’m a worrier, so the next logical step is paranoia,” has transferred his anxiety well.

So, for the last five years, Mulder and Scully have been investigating unsolved FBI cases involving the paranormal, supernatural and unexplained.

Did we mention that Mulder, as a boy, watched his sister’s abduction by aliens? His father might be dead due to suspicious circumstances.

Scully, a doctor, is the skeptic sidekick living with an inexplicable cancerous tumor in her head.

Quite a couple. And, as spook-busters, they usually get thwarted by faceless government lackeys or clandestine henchmen from a dubious international combine covering up what potential truth there is out there concerning alien invasions.

It’s like a post-Watergate, pro-UFO, neurotically New Age soap opera all wrapped up in an unrequited love theme.

No wonder Mulder and Scully stick together.

And no wonder creator Carter — he calls himself a UFO skeptic — decided to make the dangerous move of releasing a movie between seasons five and six.

The fifth season was its most popular. Season six is expected to be even bigger — and that’s internationally, too.

He’s even poised to sign up for the X-Files film number two.

That doesn’t make Carter’s gamble psychologically easier for number one.

“More money involved makes it much more complicated, admits Carter at the Four Seasons Hotel doing press with Duchovny, Anderson and X-Files director Rob Bowman. “It was stressful, but the risk was worth taking.”

Anderson’s blunt about what that risk is. “It is a challenge to get, not just the pre-existing audience, but also the people who have never seen the series, to check us out.”

One way to get those other people, the non-Fileheads, is showcase some special-event film techniques.

So do they? “I just didn’t want to do creepy sci-fi violence,” Carter reports.

No, like, do they?

You mean smile. Mulder doesn’t smile in the series and he doesn’t in the film on purpose. “He can’t smile,” says Duchovny, grinning. “He’s a questing hero.”

No, not smile. Y’know, like do they?

Bust the aliens in the movie? Carter’s not going to say on the record. Not now, days before the X-Files film gets a look-over by consumers.

Carter’s already spent two years living like a secret agent, swearing assistants to complete secrecy, printing the script on non-faxable paper. He even let some dummy scenes get out there, to find out whether he had leaks. He’s proud to say that he misled the X-Philers who needed to know the movie truth out there.

Those fans are as obsessed as Mulder, after all.

Carter confirms that they are, indeed.

So do they? Like do the fans know?

Carter says that he does not believe the complete film storyline has been pieced together.

He does believe he will find out soon enough whether The X-Files translates onto the big screen. It’s the $60-million question.

But director Bowman, who did 25 episodes on TV, insists the essence of the series is maintained.

“The storytelling on The X-Files is obtuse and that is on purpose,” he says. “It’s very tantalizing, just like the investigating they do in the film. You get fragments and you have to connect the dots.”

Still, the movie has special effects, more locations and bigger moments. “More detail,” Bowman agrees, “and more intricacies.”

But do they? Y’know, like do Mulder and Scully kiss?

“I think it would ruin the show,” Carter says, then adds, “I think it would wreck the X-Files if they had a relationship.”

Anderson chuckles: “What? Before we spot an alien, what are we going to do? Smooch?”

Reports Duchovny: “There is way too much history to be developed for them to have a carnal meeting.”

Besides, says Duchovny, smirking, “America wouldn’t stand for it.”

Rough Cut

??-??-1998 (Jun-11-1998?)
Rough Cut
Interview with Chris Carter

*With a project like this, how do you please yourself as well as all of the
fans out there?

Well, you always have to please millions of people out there. It’s part of
the goal. But first you have to please yourself, and luckily, with this
show from the very beginning, what I did was write something that pleased
me, something that I wanted to do that I liked. I think that’s one of the
secrets to the success of the show is that I’ve been able to maintain an
enthusiasm because the stories that we write are very interesting to me.

*Did you always want to turn this into a film? Is it something you thought
halfway through?

You know, I’ve been asked this question, and I always say, “Yes, we always
wanted to turn it into a film,” but I don’t know when we actually got
serious about it. I realized that if we didn’t do it [now], we might not
do it…. I thought it would be nice to take all the threads that we had
laid out there and weave them together in a big movie; It’s also true that
I don’t think we would have done a movie unless we did it now.

*What sort of challenges did you have to overcome to make it accessible to
people who aren’t fans of the show?

It’s a trick, because you know there’s a lot of people who don’t watch
television who go to movies and then there are some people who I’m sure are
not regular watchers of the show or have never watched the show. I still
think it’s a movie for them. I think those tricks — character development
and an accessible story that doesn’t require too much foreknowledge — were
the biggest hurdles to overcome. And I think that we’ve overcome them.

*”The X-Files” has always been informed by the fact that you read scientific
journals and also you’re reading about actual government conspiracies and
experiments and things they’ve done. Can you talk about that?

People say, “Where do you get all these wild ideas.?” Many of them come
directly from science. If the show didn’t have a strong scientific
foundation — the same with the movie — the science in the movie is
absolutely accurate. I guess people could argue about aliens, but the
genetics, the transgenic pollen implants, all that is 100 percent accurate
according to my scientific advisor.The show needs a scientific foundation,
because that is Scully’s point of view. Without a Scully point of view, you’ve
got no point/counterpoint. So it’s important that our science be accurate,
and it’s important that the science be good, because it provides the
leaping-off
point for the rest of the show.

*In the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that the different episodes have
become like mini-movies. My friends and I talk about that.

Well, the approach has always been a “cinematic approach,” I call it now
after having done the movie. I know whatever you do in television isn’t
quite cinematic because making a movie is a much more elaborate process
than making a television show. But, we tell the stories as if they were
little movies, and we take a big-screen approach on the small screen in
the way we tell our stories and the way the shows are directed, certainly
and in the way the stories are very plot-driven. They are good, round
mysteries, and a lot of television gets by on character development
ensembles, stories, a-b-c-d-e-f-g stories. “The X-Files” tells one good,
strong story every episode, and I think that’s much more of a movie
approach.

*There were scenes that “X-Files” fans thought were going to be in the movie
because of rumors. Were there a lot left out of the film?

No, no, no. It’s pretty much what it was designed to be. I think that there
is very little missing from the script.

*There’s a rumor that you guys shot “red herrings” just to throw off”The
X-Files” Internet fans. Is that true?

The truth is we didn’t, but, there were things that were written that were
put out there as bogus information. The last scene in the movie, or I
should say, the penultimate scene in the movie with Mulder and Scully in
the park, was not written until the spring … probably about six weeks ago.

*That’s a conspiracy.

It is a conspiracy.

*Have you ever heard from somebody in the government about your
conspiracies?

I once had someone walk up to me and say that they worked in the
intelligence community and say, “You don’t know how right you are.” I sort
of liked that idea.

*How much of the conspiracy has been pre-planned and how have you kind of
retroactively fitted?

I have a big general idea of what the conspiracy means and what the
conspiracy is, but as we go forward, we find new little things to do to add
to it. And so that’s the fun of it. If you set everything down too clearly
for yourself in the beginning, I think you end up without the sort of
wonderful discovery of new things to add in. So, I think flexibility is
important in this kind of storytelling. Also the faith that you’re going to
make the right choices as you go forward.

*Are we going to get a new movie every two or three years?

I hope this movie’s successful so that it warrants doing more movies. I
think I would like to see the TV series evolve into a movie series. That
would be a nice thing to do. It would be a nice reason for us to all work
together.

*The opening sequence with the bombing of the building is eerily similar to
the Oklahoma City bombing. Was there any concern about including that in a
piece of entertainment?

Well, it’s a building explosion. And I don’t mean it [to trivialize] a
horrible event. It certainly wasn’t meant to be that.

*As an X-Files fan, is the movie going to go into the series?

Yes, yes, yes.

*What can we expect for season six?

Well, the writers are actually back at work already. This is the first week
of work. We all got a week off, and now we’re back coming up with stories,
so we’re putting it together. We’ve got a lot to play with, and this is
the fun of it. Figuring out how to re-open “The X-Files.” I thought of the
movie as an explosion of “The X-Files.” For five years, we kept imploding
this series; it would fall back in on itself, and we’d give you a clue or
an answer and then we’d take it back. The movie has set certain things in
stone and now we’ve got to deal with those pieces. But there are lots of
new elements to toy with.

*How is moving the show to L.A. from Vancouver going to change it?

You know, it’s obvious it will change. I’ll have a new crew. I’ll have a
new environment to shoot in. (People ask if we’ll) still have the same
creepy light. You know, we’ll have bright sunlight in the daytime, although
if it’s anything like last year, it will be just like Vancouver; The
weather in Los Angeles was so bad last year. But, I think what we’ll do is
we will just use the new environment to our advantage. Just make a virtue
out of the problem, which is that we’re now shooting in sort of a concrete
jungle. [We’ll] tell stories that we wouldn’t have been able to tell in
Vancouver, so I think it’s going to be an interesting opportunity.

*What about the soundtrack?

It came out on June 2. That’s one of the best parts of my job. It’s just a
whole lot of fun for me. It’s just like saying, “Lets ask the Foo Fighters
if they want to do a song,” and they do. And they send something back, and
the day that cassette comes in I stick it in my machine. It’s like a
Christmas present.

*You know, in another time you might have been this faceless person that
created a show, and that’s not the case now. What kind of bizarre
encounters have you had?

I have people come up to me all the time and want to tell me their story
and pitch me ideas. And I have to tell them all, I’ve got this thing that I
say. I’ll say, “I’d love to listen to your story, but for legal reasons I
cannot.” Which is true. I don’t want to be involved in a situation where
someone says I stole their story. I’ve been very careful not to take
anything from anyone. I don’t think we’ve done one unsolicited script or
idea in the entire run of the show: 117 episodes. My wife and I once laid
in bed listening to a tape a guy had sent me of an encounter he had had in
the wilderness with his wife. And he had just decided to sit down and
talk about this.

*I think that “The X-Files” is a very literate program. Dialogue is almost
more important than the action, and the movie is the same way. You have to
pay attention to every word of it. Is that a dangerous area in the ’90s
with the whole short attention span thing?

You know, [you] make a mistake in thinking that the audience is not as
smart as [you] are. I think the audience is very smart. I think the
audience is very sophisticated. We have so much information these days.
Everyone knows about the human g-gnome project now that’s going on. It’s in
he paper everyday. So, genetics, all these things… while they are
sophisticated and while the dialogue [of the show] is sophisticated, it
also never attempts to confuse or baffle. It is well chosen words by smart
people.

*Have people ever approached you and told you that something’s just too
gross?

It’s really hard to give me the willies. I’m sure that there are some
things that are too gross. We’ve shown a lot of interesting images on the
show, but mostly they would have to do with autopsies and such. There
actually is a limit to what we can show. Standards and Practices prevents
us from doing anything that is too gruesome, gory, visceral. The truth is,
I hate blood. I don’t like to show it on screen. I don’t like to show it
splattering. I don’t like to show it spilling. I don’t like to see
shoot-outs and bullets flying. I’m uninterested in that. I’m interested in
the effects of events. Even violent events and what the human drama is
before and after them, but the gore is something that I’m not interested
in.

Soundtrack Magazine: Mark Snow: Scoring The X-Files Movie

Jun-??-1998
Soundtrack Magazine
Mark Snow: Scoring The X-Files Movie
Randall Larson

One of the biggest shows on TV continues to be Chris Carter’s THE X-FILES. With its ongoing conspiratorial mythology and speculative plotting, THE X-FILES is one part detective show, two parts science fiction, its eyes glancing furtively at the skies every Sunday night. Much of the show’s atmosphere is achieved through Mark Snow’s moody and inventive musical scoring. With the June release of the feature length X-FILES movie, Snow joins creator Chris Carter, director Rob Bowman and stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in translating the small screen hit to the big screen.

Randall D. Larson: Last time we talked (Soundtrack!, June 1997), you were looking forward to the opportunity of expanding the scope of the TV music and orchestrate it a little broader for the feature. How has that worked out?
Mark Snow: It’s worked out great. I’d say 90% of the score is big orchestra combined with electronics. There are a few cues that are electronic, but they’re going to be very “big” sounding. It’s going to be sort of a traditional sound, to an extent, with the orchestra, but in a sharp contrast to the electronic stuff. It should be a really great mix. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the electronics, so I think it’s going to be a really great contrast.
In the TV show, from day one, everyone involved from Chris Carter down wanted a lot of music. At first he was talking about ambient, atmospheric, basically synth-pad kind of stuff. And that’s basically what I did at the beginning. It just got too boring and ordinary so I opened it up. Chris didn’t mind and after the first year he just let me go off on my own, and as the years went on it became more musical and less sound design. Every once in a while it would revert back to some sound design stuff, but now it’s a pretty good mix of ambient atmospheric music.

Randall D. Larson: Has the feature film enabled you to do any more thematic work than you were able to do on the show?
Mark Snow: I think the best thing, thematically, that’s come out of it is the X-FILES theme itself, which is being harmonized and orchestrated in different settings that never have appeared on the TV show. The TV version is sort of a one-note pad and a simple accompaniment. But now I’ve put different kinds of harmonization to it. It doesn’t happen every place, but it happens enough that anyone who knows the theme would recognize it.

Randall D. Larson: How about any new themes?
Mark Snow: There is a veiled theme for the Cigarette-Smoking Man. It’s not as much melodic as it is harmonic, it’s a bunch of minor chords going from one to another. It sounds a little bit like Bernard Herrmann / Jules Verne…

Randall D. Larson: It sounds perfectly appropriate for the character.
Mark Snow: Yes. There’s not a real melody, but a chordal structure. There’s a theme for the Elders, the Well Manicured Man and the older conspiracy figures. I haven’t done it yet, but the last episode of the TV season will have a lot of these themes in it, which will hopefully introduce some of the movie music.

Randall D. Larson: I understand the last few episodes this season will go right into the feature film. So you’re developing a musical segue as well?
Mark Snow: Yes. Actually, I just finished the second-to-Iast episode of the season, and that’s just a stand-alone. But the next one, which is the last episode of the season, is really tied into the movie.

Randall D. Larson: You started on the feature last January, so you’ve had plenty of time to develop material, concurrently with working on the series…
Yes. Unfortunately, the way things work at Ten-Thirteen Productions, which is the production company of X-FILES, there are a lot of last-minute changes. Someone gets up in the middle of the night and has an idea to change something, so just when you think we’re locked or it’s set, new changes come down, which I know is not unusual by any stretch of the imagination. So, although we had the time, I was always living under the anxiety of feeling that it was always going to change. That’s par for the course, though, and it always seems to work out.

Randall D. Larson: How much music, all told, have you composed for the film, and how many musicians have you used?
Mark Snow: I think it’ll be about 75 minutes, for 85 musicians. That’s a lot. Actually, I’m hoping to convince these people to take some of it out! I think the movie, to me, looks a little bit like the TV show at times, and I think in a feature you don’t need the constant reminder that something’s going on, with accents and music all over the place. For better or for worse, though, the legacy of the music of the X-Files has always been: play lots of music.

Randall D. Larson: How would you contrast working on the feature as opposed to the approach of doing the TV show? I know it’s more expansive and you’re doing more with themes as opposed to pure atmospheres, but how would you contrast the experiences, even though the film is so closely tied to the TV show?
Mark Snow: The biggest contrast, obviously, is the scope of the movie. There are things in the movie that the TV show can never do, and will never do. It’s just impossible.

Randall D. Larson: In terms of effects and locations?
Mark Snow: Yes. There is massive CGI, computer effects, and a scope that is quite appropriate for the big screen that they don’t have the time or money to do for the series. That’s the biggest contrast. It’s still a very dense story, quite complicated. I’m hoping that the non-fan will enjoy it as much as the fan.

x filesRandall D. Larson: Did you get the chance to use any melodies, or more of the lighter music than you were able to do on the TV show? Or has the tone been fairly dark throughout?
Mark Snow: It’s been pretty dark. The great thing about the TV series is, when we have these stand-alone, what I call boutique episodes, sometimes they verge on black comedy, with a lot of cute things I can do. The big shows, the mythical/conspiracy/cover-up shows are fairly drab and there’s not much room for anything but the real dark approach.

Randall D. Larson: Some of my favorite scores are for those one-shot episodes. I loved the ‘Elephant Mann’ episode with all the allusions to the John Morris music.
Mark Snow: You’re one of the few people who caught that! That’s exactly right. Those are the times when the palette is wide open and you really can stretch.

Randall D. Larson: What were some of the main challenges that THE X-FILES MOVIE posed for you?
Mark Snow: I wanted to continue the effect and the honesty of the music from the series and have it modulate to the big screen, to understand how to make that jump without it seeming like a score by Jerry Goldsmith or Homer or another big name movie composer.

Randall D. Larson: Was the feature film temp-tracked, and how did you deal with that?
Mark Snow: Yes, it was, and that was very helpful. My music editor, Jeff Charbonneau, temp tracked the movie with, say, 75% existing score, and 25% original stuff from me. He did a great job and it was very helpful in setting the tone and getting the producer and director to get a feel for what kind of music they thought would work. Then I was able to do it electronically and put it into a temp screening, and that was very successful. I basically did the temp track, and I’d say a good 95% of that is what the final score’s going to be, but with orchestra.

Randall D. Larson: How closely with you work with director Rob Bowman on the music?
Mark Snow: Rob is an incredibly literate director. But we all basically work for Chris Carter. So, although Chris didn’t direct the movie, he’s very hands-on. Chris is very loyal, and he likes to work with the people he knows. It never would have worked if he got some big shot egomaniac director! Rob is incredibly talented, and he also knows what Chris likes. But, between me and Rob alone, we have this running joke where he’ll hear a CD and he’ll call up and he’ll just name a CD and the cut, and then hang up on me. “FORREST GUMP, cut 10!” and he hangs up! “TERMINATOR 2, cut 11!” or whatever.
Then we’d discuss it. And he hates violins, on top of it all. So he’s going to see 30 of them on Monday, so good luck!

Randall D. Larson: What kind of orchestration are you using in the orchestral part of the score?
Mark Snow: It’s a fairly standard orchestra. Big string section, lots of basses and five percussionists. The percussionists are going to be all over the place – glass and marimbas and all kinds of crazy instruments. So the combination of the electronic ambient stuff and the orchestra should be really spectacular.

Randall D. Larson: Sounds like a score and a film to look forward to!
Mark Snow: Well, I hope so! The organization for this thing has been incredible! Pre-record all the electronic tracks, and then strip them off to tapes, individually, and then all that has to be transferred to a digital 48-track machine. Then the orchestra’s recorded, then the whole thing goes to another studio to mix it all together, and if our calculations are right, it should be an awesome sound.

Randall D. Larson: Now having done the feature, how do you think it will be like going back to the series, having had that experience?
Mark Snow: Well, I’m hoping the movie score experience is going to be really great. But the thing is that the TV show is also great, and it is like doing a mini feature all the time. If it was really terrible, boring drudge work it would be a problem. But it’s not.

Randall D. Larson: What do you have forthcoming?
Mark Snow: I’m doing a movie for MGM right after THE X-FILES called DISTURBING BEHAVIOR, which is being directed by David Netter, who’s an alumni of THE X FILES!

Randall D. Larson: What kind of film is that going to be?
Mark Snow: It’s an all-unknown teenage cast, and on the surface it might seem like SCREAM or a movie like that, but it’s really a lot deeper and it’s really brilliant, with some fabulous actors, and the direction, the location photography are just great. A real deep, dark mystery.

Randall D. Larson: When do you start on that and when’s it coming out?
Mark Snow: It’s supposed to come out August 21st but I heard they moved it up to the beginning of August. I should be scoring around the end of June.

Randall D. Larson: Have you done any writing on that yet?
Mark Snow: Actually, I did. I’ve written a main title theme for that, which they all loved, so I’m off to a good start on that.